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Stacey Ross, of San Diego Bargain Mama, found her ideal job in the world of online marketing.

First, give me an idea of your work history.

I worked as a schoolteacher, counselor, and special projects (grants) coordinator in various school districts. After having kids, I became a full-time, stay-at-home mom.

I started blogging in 2007 to support my circle of entrepreneurial mom-friends and spotlight local and online mom-recommended discounts and deals. I began to build an online “Bargain Mama community” that pooled together savvy consumers. That’s when I discovered the huge value of social media networks and how they offer a very viable service in spreading the word, quickly and creatively.

What is your role with Bargain Mama now?

My role is to be a social media connector, establish a team, and then collectively execute marketing strategies via social media. I work as an offline event planner, run a website, freelance for online and offline publications, ghost write for social media campaigns, and plug away as an aspiring author.

How does it work?

When a company expresses interest, we sit down and create a plan with a collaborative team. From there we spend a month doing an analysis of their online presence, which allows us to see the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Next, we create a long-term results-driven plan and determine who will do which tasks. Each month entails a report and an opportunity for the team, along with the company, to regroup and analyze the campaigns. My network of online bloggers and business owners also offer a great support in helping spread our clients’ messages, as well.

How did you get involved with this?

Using my website, Twitter, and various Facebook accounts, I began to attract an online niche of mom consumers and family-friendly businesses that wanted a social media plan to help amplify their messages. I’ve worked hard to build a strong local network of journalists, publicists, social media professionals, and TV and radio personalities. Cutting-edge businesses share their social media outlets as standard practice these days, and they want to broadcast their messages via email campaigns, events, collaborative partnerships, and other online platforms. I tapped into this as a blogger and can now offer a variety of social media services referrals to local businesses that want a stronger online presence.

How have you gotten new clients? Do you advertise your services?

I attract clients via my online presence, through networking events, ads, and mostly by good old word of mouth.

Can you give me an idea of how much you make? Does it pay the bills, provide spending money?

I make a respectable part-time income through ghost writing, freelancing, consulting, and selling ads, both online and offline. This pays bills, as well as provides spending money. The work I get is commensurate to the efforts I put into it. When I am on overload, I hire helpers. As a mom, this is a dream job, because my young kids require a lot of my time.

Do you have goals you want to reach with this? Goals you’ve already reached?

I’d like to continue to assist small businesses doing what I am doing, but on a larger scale. I mostly enjoy researching, freelancing, and helping others build their brands. I am content having reached my biggest goal for my San Diego Bargain Mama: to be a hub for savvy consumer bloggers to share great content and book them for local TV segments, celebrity interviews, and local events. Reciprocated exposure becomes a win-win situation. We always are open to more contributors, too.

What kind of obstacles have you faced along the way?

The challenge is alternating and diversifying my creative juices to maintain an online presence that remains unique, as social media has become very noisy over the past year or so. What you find is much less social interaction and many more sales pitches, so standing out in the mix is a challenge. For social media to be most effective it needs to offer great value and project a unique voice that amplifies a client’s message, while interacting in dialogue. The other challenge is helping clients understand that effective social media campaigns need a clear strategy. Sporadic marketing pitches or automated messages just don’t cut it.

Any pleasant surprises?

The media exposure and community support I have received from the get-go have been consistent and rewarding. Also, I have been fortunate to meet and collaborate with fantastic colleagues, and I’ve made some great friends with like interests –all via social networking. The supportive network generated from social media is nothing short of mind-blowing.

What kind of person would you say is cut out for this type of work?

A people-person who has built a strong online presence, is a natural at networking, and is not afraid to think out of the box.

And what advice would you have for someone who thinks a career in social media marketing might be for them?

Build an online platform that will attract like-minded business owners who will trust you in assuming their voice and online presence. Social media messages that are non-interactive and sterile can be great for getting the word out, but are often seen as shallow marketing pitches absent of passion, transparency, and authenticity. They add noise to the stream. An ideal ghost-writer is someone who is able to maintain a business’ credibility by assisting with online campaigns, writing content and updates for its blogs and newsletters, and maintaining a credible voice. Ideally you’d be someone whom a business owner would trust as a loyal business partner, both online and offline.

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